Skip to main content

9.2 Bulk Drums

Certain categories of liquid chemicals can be bulked and combined into drums. Examples include flammable solvents, acids, bases, and some types of aqueous waste. Bulking waste (as opposed to lab packing) can result in significant cost savings for the University and ultimately your department. Bulking first involves segregating chemicals according to hazard class. Then a small amount of chemical from each container is mixed in a 1-gallon size container to determine if a reaction occurs. If no reactions occur, then the rest of the chemical is poured into a 30- or 55-gallon drum. Accurately labeling chemicals helps to avoid potential reactions, fires, or explosions when chemicals are bulked.

The cost for disposal of labpacks is based on the number of drums of waste, whether the drum is completely filled with solvents or contains (as in most cases) partially filled bottles packed according to DOT regulations. Thus, the cost of the disposal of a partially filled bottle is the same as the cost of one which is full. Given this situation, partially filled bottles become very expensive for the amount of material being shipped. In part, this explains the high disposal cost per gallon of material. In order to reduce this empty but costly space, compatible solvents (not including the above recyclables) may be combined in a single container. As with all hazardous waste containers with multiple constituents, when solvents are thus combined, the approximate volume percent of each solvent should be noted on the Cornell two-part Hazardous Waste label. However, halogenated solvents should not be combined with solvents which do not contain halogens, because of differences in handling and ultimate disposal techniques. Solutions of halogenated and non-halogenated solvents will be considered as halogenated solvents and disposed of accordingly.

The preferred method of managing spent solvents is recycling for reuse. Current regulations prohibit the disposal of hazardous waste chemicals and most liquid wastes in municipal landfills. Solvents that cannot be recycled will be shipped as hazardous waste for incineration or treatment.